Friday, May 22, 2009


Whither the Caribbean

If Prime Minister Gonsalves is serious then St Vincent and the Grenadines could well pull out of CSME if stories of discrimination against its nationals in some Caribbean territories remains unaddressed. Although Pm Gonsalves did not name names it is widely believed that Barbados is one of the countries to which he was referring.

While I have never had adverse treatment in Barbados I've read numerous accounts of harassment and general poor treatment meted out to Vincentians by Barbadian immigration personnel. In fact, when Vincentians speak of the proposed international airprt many express relief at not having to use Barbados as their gateway. This no doubt has as much to do with the long layover as the perceived ill treatment. Somewhere amongst these stories lies the truth.

Nevertheless, this Caribbean is a strange place. We concentrate so much on artificial barriers which ranks us as MDC's and LDC's which in turn attracts the "I am better than you syndrome". Lost in all this is the fact that we are more alike than we are different and as a region we share the same historical experience. It is the reluctance to acknowledge that we are one people which has given rise to the disdain with which we often treat others. OECS citizens are disparagingly referred to as small islanders which is laughable since in the grand scale we are all specks. Small wonder then that many of us get treated as second class citizens by immigration personnel.

Guyanese is now a bad word in many islands where they are viewed as intruders demanding a share of slender resources. Jamaicans come with a reputation as murderers and the list goes on and on. It is all very disheartening to watch and listen the stereotypical nonsense that gets played out day after day. Unlike the leader of the Opposition I have no issue with PM Gonsalves' threats. You see, for all his flaws I believe PM Gonsalves to be a regionalist who most likely was just frustrated that in 2009 Caribbean integration appears to be as distant as ever. Therefore, I would not expect St Vincent and the Grenadines to follow through with its threats. I am more inclined to believe that Gonsalves knows that one way to attract attention to the burning issue of movement of people in this region is to highlight them in a manner that can attract healthy debate. Time for the fragmentation to cease. One Caribbean, One people!

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Another I forgot to mention is that Americans up until recently didn't need passports to come to the region. Yet it was required for the people of the region to go from island to island.
I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is irrational to me that this mindset persists till today in the Caribbean. Despite Stalin calling for the recognition of "Caribbean man", despite the fact that we all in the islands all "rally 'round the West Indies", this insularity still binds us.

As a Caribbean citizen living outside of the Caribbean, when I see, meet or even hear another Caribbean person, I cannot tell you the joy I feel. It doesn't matter which island s/he is from, all that matters is that he is my "neighbour".

I also know that these Caribbean islands do not even create a wave in the minds of the international community except for votes in the UN and allocating quotas of international aid.
(I am sorry if I sound cynical but this is borne of years of observation)

So, given that all this, the fact that we are still bickering among ourselves is not only petty, it is also self-destructive.
sorry not Stalin, but Black Stalin
Thanks for your comments Kathy. I almost thought I was talking nonsense since persons shied away from commenting:). I have a low tolerance for the pettiness so am easily annoyed by the silliness that many find amusing
True words Abeni, I have heard stories about how Jamaicans are treated in other Caribbean islands, visitors and even companies. This "better than you" mentality only serves to drive us further apart in a time when we need to come together to weather the storm. We all have our sets of problems in our various islands, and yes precautions have to be taken, but when we start treating each other with little or no regards, then we are on a slippery slope to our own downfall.
Well, looking at it from a very basic point of view... the reason we are a CARIBBEAN REGION is that we have so much in common... you'd hope we recognised this and worked toward some amount of unity. But if my memory serves me correctly, 10-1=0, and we haven't quite recovered from that mathematical blunder as yet.
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